I have the pleasure of coming up with a wine list for a fine dining steakhouse in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. This is my first opportunity to do so and I want to do it right and impress! So my question for all of you, what is your absolute number one wine that needs to be on that list. Steak sauce add ons will include au poive, portuguese inspired chimichurri, brandy braised crab, nebbiolo demi. A focus will also be the marrow of the cow, featured in dishes and used to coat the steaks.There will be a rotating fish du jour option.I would just love to hear opinions from sommeliers around the world on what they think sells and works best in their restaurant. Thank you all so much, cheers!
Check out the Pappa's Brothers Steakhouses on line. Each location has their list available as a PDF. These are amazing programs. Also, there's a lot of cash flow that can be generated with Napa Cabernet in an American Steakhouse.
Thanks man! Oh and i absolutely know Napa Cabernet is a profit monster, I think that is obvious, that's why I'm seeking advice on other varietals people enjoy
Yeah, Pappa's Brothers! I'm sure you've read all of the lists mentioned in these articles already, but just in case:https://www.winecountry.com/blog/10-best-steakhouse-wine-lists-across-the-country/http://www.winespectator.com/webfeature/show/id/52352https://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/08/dining/breaking-free-of-steakhouse-wine-list-tradition.htmlI'd add John Howie Steak to the lists for an example of something a bit more managable: https://johnhowiesteak.blob.core.windows.net/menu/WineList.pdf?636526778588606498I point out those, because there is no one answer to your question, but there are themes in all of them.To deviate from the Napa Cab, try out Champagne Salon and Jacques Selosse Substance with your steaks. So unexpectedly delicious (and for two different reasons). Another great deviation in more of a parallel is Quintarelli Alzero. Has some of the elements that make Napa Cab great with steak, but is an utterly unique wine. And have some fun selling syrah with your au poive. Syrah can perform well in that environment, but need some enthusiasm to sell. Kongsgaard Syrah with some age kills. As do funky Washington versions from the likes of Cayuse and Gramercy. As do northern Rhone styles with more oak like Guigal and Jean Marc Colombo. Finally, find some good Amarone (or Valpo in general...just watch the sugar levels and make sure you're not offering super sweet bottlings).
I would be more than happy to email you my list from Sullivan's before I left!
Additional info that would be useful if you want the best recommendations:
- Does the restaurant have a sommelier or sommeliers on the floor? Will you be selling/opening bottles, or will servers?
- What currently sells well, either at this restaurant or similar ones nearby?
- What's your expected clientele? Do they want you to have wines they don't already know, or do they want the classics?
- How big of a cellar will you have? What kind of budget? What's the range on your list?
- What can you actually get? I know buying wine (or booze in general) in PA is super tough for restaurants, so that might also affect your options.Those caveats aside, I'd look to find some classic producers of Rioja, Barolo, and Brunello. You also might well be able to find some good-quality Bordeaux with age on it. All tend to do well in a steakhouse setting, and can be a nice alternative to Napa Cab at a similar price point.
Champagnes: if you have Skurnik present jn your market, look up J.L. Vergnon - O.G. it tastes like an illegitimate child of Krug and Salon at half if not 1/3rd of the price. All GC, 100% chard. Sublime.
For whites: Big, oak driven Chards(there are hundreds to choose from),
Old World: white Rueda with some oak if you want to be cool and hip, otherwise Meursault from a good producer is a no brainer if you have the market for it.
Rose: fuller, maybe Tempranillo based that sees old/neutral oak. (Long shot I know)
Portuguese inspired Chimichurri.....How about some Portuguese Wines?
Some reds that stand out are:
Wine & Soul "Pintas" Douro
Wine & Soul "Manoella" Douro ...especially the VV bottling
Casa Ferreirinha "Callabriga" Douro
Quinta do Vallado "Reserva" Douro
Cartuxa "Pera Manca" Alentejo
Adega de Borba "Reserva" Alentejo
Quinta do Cardo "Reserva" Dao
Quinta de Lemos "Dona Santana" Dao
Foz de Arouce 'Vinhas Velha de Santa Maria" Bairrada
By the way, What's Portuguese about this Chimichurri anyway? I'm intrigued.
Priorat, Priorat, Priorat! High alcohol, high acid Grenache, almost always with soft yet generous tannins. Powerful, yet almost always lifted and super pretty. Great for Napa Cab drinkers that want to try something new but not totally unfamiliar. Look for wines by Alvaro Palacios, Sara Perez, Rene Barbier, or Ester Nin. All big names that should be available in most major markets and all make great wines up and down the price scale. Plenty of great lesser known estates too but I'm not sure what is available in your market.
For a steakhouse in PA..Get as much Shafer Hillside as you are allowed to buy. Harlan, Rudd, Caymus Special select, Silver Oak if you have an older crowd. If you have a younger crowd get some vineyard 29 cab..
Such an exciting opportunity! Dominus, Caymus, Harlan Estate, Silver Oak, and Screaming Eagle are all great options for big reds. I’d do Kistler, El Molino, Kesner, and Rombauer for big whites.
To piggy back on other posts- Pappa Brothers Steakhouses do just about everything right! They are a great!
It will be a peri peri inspired chimichurri.
This restaurant has only been a concept for a matter of days. I have to present a wine list to an investor by Wednesday so I'm kind of freaking out a little. I will be the sommelier, tending to a downstairs lounge as well as floating in the dining room. Servers will be in control of upselling, possibly opening as well. We have a diverse restaurant scene in Lancaster, so a wide range sells. People definitely gravitate towards Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir, for whites the typical oaked Chardonnay, but people are willing to explore and try new things.
Our expected clientele would be an older crowd who generate a higher income. We would like a wide range, and the price list can vary. We would like to have the by the bottle option to lean towards $100-500+ a bottle. And I am not sure what I can actually get yet! I will discuss more details hopefully tonight. I am novice really, I am the sommelier for TE, a Forbes 5 star restaurant right now that focuses on Italian varietals. So I have a good grasp on wines, but not where I can source them from honestly. I am not allowed to order the wines at my current job.
That would be awesome! Message me
I will say this. I manage the list for one of the busiest steakhouses in Chicago and while all of these suggestions are phenomenal and it is fun and necessary to have breadth on your list, people are still going to sit down and order Napa Cabernet. Don't toss them aside because they might not excite you as a Sommelier. To truly write a successful wine list you have to remember you are buying wine for the guest. Give the people what they want. Just my two cents.
Of course I will leave you with a fun suggestion. The Quinta Dos Murcas Reserva from the Douro. The dry reds from Portugal are killer with steak.